Malai Kofta via Flickr from manjulaskitchen.com
One of the greenest things you can do is to eat less meat, but that's its own article so I won't address that here. Suffice it to say, you are interested or curious about eating vegetarian at restaurants. Not every restaurant I review is strictly vegetarian. I've categorized restaurants as vegan, vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly to make that distinction clear.
In advance, I know this will be a multi-part entry because there are a lot of good options in LA, so I'll only address a couple at a time.
Great India Cafe, vegetarian-friendly, 12321 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, 818.761.8140
Great India Cafe is not a "vegetarian" restaurant, so it's great if you want to eat with people who aren't vegetarian. In my opinion this is the best Indian restaurant in LA. The tomato/pumpkin spread that they serve with the papadams is creamy, spicy and sweet (if they don't bring it to you automatically, be sure to ask for it.) An amazing concoction that I've never seen anywhere else. They do all the standards really well, their paneers, samosas and masalas are all amazing, but the dish that really does it for me is their Malai Kofta which is a vegetable dumpling in a creamy, exotically spiced, creamy tomato sauce. HEAVEN. A "must try" to anyone who goes here. To top it off, all of the people who work here are really nice, and the ornate "Taj Mahal" feeling decor is fun and cozy (and maybe a little campy too, but who cares?)
Real Food Daily, vegan, 514 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, 310.451.7544
Real Food Daily (RFD) is specifically "organic vegan" cuisine. It's a great transition restaurant for people who are starting to incorporate eating vegetarian into their lives as you can get vegetarian versions of "comfort" foods here, as well as a lot of decadent desserts. One of the best items on their menu is a lentil-walnut pate that I've made dozens of times, using the RFD cookbook, for non-vegetarians who love it just as much as vegetarians. It's got an amazing moussy texture and a fantastic "unctuousness" to it that you would expect from a meat-based pate. Their soba noodles with julienned vegetables in a peanut sauce is refreshing and somehow both light and rich at the same time. My personal favorite entree though is their "Reuben" sandwich with a rye bread that has just enough kick to it served with mashed potatoes, their gravy is AMAZING...I always get extra gravy. This sandwich always makes me feel like I'm being really decadent...it's like vegan junk food, it's that good. Be sure to save room for dessert as they have a lot of them!